12/30/18 – Jesus was a Refugee

Posted on : Dec 27th, 2018 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Our worship theme this advent has been, “The Road To Christmas Is Seldom A Smooth One.”  No truer words were ever written. 

We often over-romanticize the story of the birth of Jesus.  The straw of the manger becomes 800 thread pure cotton sheets.  The barn, a five-star hotel, the starry night, temperature controlled, and the world into which Christ was born, as a place awash in heavenly peace.  That of course is not the world into which Jesus was born. 

Jesus was born into a violent and unstable world, ruled by militaristic despots (kings and dictators).  One of the cruelest of the bunch happened to be King Herod, who was ruler of the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus’ birth.  Herod was a notoriously violent king.  He was also insecure.  Anyone whom he felt threatened by was killed.  When Jesus was born, wise men or astrologer/soothsayers/diviners came from the East (Orient) asking “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jewish people?”

It was that word “King” that set off Herod.  Herod immediately summoned the wise men to find where this child was born.  He told the wise men he wanted to come and worship the child.  The wise men (diviners of truth) sensed he had other motives.  After greeting the child, the wise men left and fearing the evil that King Herod was about to inflict on the child, they went home a different way.  When Herod discovered that he had been tricked, he went into a Trumpian rage and decreed that all children under the age of two in and around Bethlehem were to be killed.  That night, an angel of God appeared to Joseph, and being warned in a dream, he took the child and his wife, Mary, and fled for their lives to Egypt.  This portion of the Christmas story is often called “the slaughter of the innocents,” innocents being an archaic word for infants and young children. 

As I reflect on this story, it reminds me of those families today who are fleeing violence in their home countries.  I especially think of the “slaughter of the innocents” that is happening in Syria, parts of North Africa, and of course, the gang violence and corruption in some Latin American countries that is causing fathers and mothers to flee their home land and seek asylum in the US.

This Sunday, Larry Trent, a member of Westwood Hills UCC will be joining us.  Larry has made numerous mission trips to the US/Mexico border to help various ministries that are providing food and shelter for those awaiting asylum applications.  He has learned much about why these folks are fleeing and what they hope to gain by coming to the US.  His stories are heart-felt, honest, first-person stories from the refugees themselves.  More on Sunday!

Christmas Blessings to you, to those you love, and to our world.

Dan

Matthew 2: 1-23

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jewish people? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;

for from you shall come a ruler

    who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Now after they had left, an angel of God appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by God through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my child.”

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

“A voice was heard in Ramah,

    wailing and loud lamentation,

Rachel weeping for her children;

    she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”

When Herod died, an angel of God suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.”

 

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

 

 

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